Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Letter from Zimbabwe: Eddie Cross

In this week's letter, Eddie responds to the passage of the amendment bill in parliament

Overgrown Morons at Work.

The BBC has a very well developed sense of the bizarre and knows when to use
a propaganda clip to good effect when it becomes available. They did that
this week with a short clip from the only State run television channel here
and the subject was the reaction in Parliament to the success of the vote on
the 17th constitutional amendment since 1980.

The clip showed the despair of the MDC opposition to the vote and the
specter of the Zanu PF Members of Parliament (one third of them unelected
and appointed by Mugabe for such an event in our sorry history) dancing in
Parliament and clearly showing their gross indulgence and scant regard for
the suffering of our people. But the sad thing is that what we were really
witnessing was a collection of overgrown child morons at work.

Just look at the childish actions of this collection of clowns in the past

They create a new Senate which will cost us US$20 million before the end of
this year in direct and indirect costs at a time when we cannot find the
money to import food, raw materials, fuel and spare parts. The only function
of this completely useless institution is to accommodate those who failed in
their bids to join the gravy train in the last election.

They gave themselves the right to take away from those who disagree with
them and who are standing up to them politically, the right to travel. This
is clearly simply a "tit for tat" measure designed to match the smart
sanctions imposed on Zanu leadership for gross human and political rights
violations. The fact that this was yet another violation of our basic rights
as entrenched in international law made no impression.

They took away from all of us any remaining security of tenure over assets
that we have owned, in many cases, all our lives. In one fell swoop they
destroyed whatever hope they once had of agricultural recovery and spread
the malaise to every sector of the economy. No mine or industry or even
urban residential property is now safe. This stupid and childish act (which
has no legal validity in the long term as others in similar circumstances
around the globe will testify) has undermined all serious future investment
and confirmed decisions like that of the huge Anglo American Group, that
disinvestment is the only sensible strategy while these clowns are in power.

They declared (and this really takes the cake) that we could not demand
elections for a new Mayor and Council in crisis riven Harare because they
were allowed by the law to postpone such an event for three months at a time
for up to 4 years! So much for democratic rights and the principle objects
of the liberation struggle that Zanu and others fought for over half a

When faced with the threat of expulsion from the IMF and the efforts by
South Africa to get them to start behaving in a mature and rational way to
end the present crisis, they raided the private bank accounts of local
business and simply took the money to pay the IMF US$120 million. This, at a
time when we have no seed or fertilizer for the new season now two months
away, no fuel, no raw materials, shortages of all basic foods and shortages
of just about everything else. All that this act of defiance did was to say
to South Africa - you go jump in the lake. we can still look after
ourselves! If we needed a clearer example of the rejection of the SA loan
offer with its political and economic conditions - here it is.

What did this childish act achieve? Absolutely nothing! It came in a week
when South Africa cut our phone lines for non payment of accounts and the
PTC announced it owed other telephone systems over US$100 million in unpaid
bills. We owe everyone money and our creditors now hold our useless script
on nearly US$7 billion in foreign debt and Z$16 trillion debts at home -
rising now at a trillion a week. We even had a plane impounded at Gatwick
for non-payment of landing fees - and they held passenger luggage as hostage
until the overdue account was paid. But when it came to rectifying the
fundamental problems, that underline our economic and political crisis and
which the IMF and others have been demanding action for years - they did
virtually nothing.

So now we sit - passengers at international airports waiting for days for a
plane to take them home, businessmen waiting for urgently needed imports to
keep their businesses running, miners to keep their mines open and
functioning, farmers across the country sitting on their useless assets,
waiting for fuel and fertilizer and seed to get a crop in the ground this
season. It town we sit in queues for hours and days for fuel and other
essentials and when we get them they have doubled or trebled in price.

The stock market is still frozen in its tracks - trillions of dollars worth
of "sell" orders, no buyers. The government is losing Z$500 million a day
while this impasse goes on but still no action, they childishly refuse to
accept they were wrong and these new regulations will simply destroy what
was until a few weeks ago one of the few institutions still functioning
normally. These guys are morons - 25 years of experience in government and
they are still not learning anything as they go on.

We have yet to see what the final IMF position will be but I am sure the
payment of US$120 million will not mean a great deal. In fact the way it was
done and the total lack of transparency that was involved will not impress
those stern international bankers! It was probably counterproductive. The
truth is the IMF does not give a damn about the arrears - it's our policies
that worry them. They know better than most with their global network of
offices and people that it is the policy stance of this government (the goon
show) that has destroyed our economy, halved incomes and life expectancy and
driven a third of our total population into exile or an early grave.

If I were on the IMF Board I would send their cheque back to them and tell
them to go away and not to come back until they were prepared to put their
house in order. Right now we are in a firestorm of inflation - for the first
time in our history we are seeing triple digit inflation in one month. The
good news is that no government in history has survived that sort of storm
and neither will this one. Then perhaps we can start to get on with
rebuilding our lives. There is little hope of that while this collection of
child morons is at work and in control.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 3rd September 2005

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